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CITY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEM NO. 26

Meeting Date: January 11, 2005

Subject/Title: An appeal of the Planning Commission decision to approve a Conditional Use Permit (CUP 04-14) that establishes a master sign program for the John Muir/Mt. Diablo Health System campus, located at the southwest corner of Balfour Road and Concord Avenue

Prepared by: Erik Nolthenius, Senior Planner

Submitted by: Howard Sword, Community Development Director

RECOMMENDATION
The Planning Commission and staff recommend that the City Council pass the attached resolution upholding the Commission’s decision and denying the appeal of Conditional Use Permit No. 04-14.

PREVIOUS ACTION
Both the Commission and the Council have granted a number of entitlements related to the project site since 2001, including a Development Agreement, a General Plan Amendment, a Rezone, a Tentative Subdivision Map, and a Design Review for phase one of the campus (currently under construction). The master sign program was approved by the Commission on October 19, 2004, subject to conditions, in accordance with Resolution No. 04-67.

BACKGROUND
Condition 7 of Design Review No. 03-01 (phase one) requires the applicant to submit a master sign program for the campus to the Commission for review and approval prior to the issuance of a certificate of occupancy. The building has been under construction since December of 2003 and is expected to be completed in the next several weeks. The applicant requested approval of the submitted conditional use permit to comply with the referenced condition and to ensure that signage for the building can be ordered, manufactured and installed in conjunction with the issuance of a certificate of occupancy.

The applicant is proposing a maximum of 40 signs throughout the campus, to be divided among 8 different types, as seen in the attached master sign program. One of the types is labeled as the “Campus Identification Monument Sign” and is proposed at two locations (see Sheet 6 of the master sign program). The proposed sign type would measure 10 feet in height and 6.5 feet in width (65 square feet). Staff had recommended that the Commission reduce the height of this sign type to 8 feet in order to be consistent with the “Primary Campus Entry Identification/Directional Sign” (also 8 feet in height, with a total area of 36 square feet). The Commission agreed with staff and conditioned the master sign program to be revised accordingly.

An appeal was subsequently filed by GNU Group (who prepared the master sign program) on behalf of John Muir/Mt. Diablo Health System. The appeal is based on the reduction in height for the sign type as referenced above. The attached letter, which was submitted as part of the appeal, states the reasons that the appellant deems the Commission was in error by conditioning the height of the two monument signs. According to the letter, “with the heavy traffic pattern exiting off of highway 4 onto six lanes of surface traffic the additional 24 inches of vertical height is necessary to create a strong impact. This will validate to patients they have arrived in the general area of the campus and cue them for the next sign which is located approximately 400 feet and gives them directional information”.

Staff’s intent in recommending the reduced sign height to the Commission was to maintain consistency with other monument signs throughout the City and, in particular, in the vicinity of the project site. Monument signs have previously been approved by the Commission for the office project next to Fire Station 52 and the ARCO station, both located just west of the project site, for maximum heights of 6 feet and 8 feet respectively. Staff notes that other office signs throughout the community are also 8 feet high or less.

In addition, it should be noted that there is a fairly significant number of signs throughout the campus that the Commission approved, in fact many more than would ordinarily be allowed. This is a result primarily of staff and the Planning Commission recognizing the size of the overall campus and the need to provide adequate on-site signage. Since the master sign program includes the previously referenced 8-foot high directional sign, requiring the sign type in question to be reduced to 8-feet in height would not require an entirely new sign design. The Commission agreed with staff and felt that the reduced height would maintain consistency with previously approved signs while still providing adequate identification for the campus.

FISCAL IMPACT
None associated with the approval of a master sign program. The campus developer is required to pay all relevant fees as specified in the Development Agreement and the conditions of approval for the project. The project, once developed, would generate additional jobs and property tax for the City. The project will also increase demand for the urban services the City provides, which will result in ongoing service delivery costs associated with the project.

ALTERNATE ACTION
Overrule the action of the Commission and approve the appeal. Staff will return at the next meeting with a resolution that memorializes the Council action.

Attachments
Resolution
Appeal letter
Planning Commission Resolution No. 04-67
Proposed master sign program

RESOLUTION NO.

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BRENTWOOD UPHOLDING THE PLANNING COMMISSION'S APPROVAL AND DENYING AN APPEAL, FILED BY GNU GROUP ON BEHALF OF JOHN MUIR/MT. DIABLO HEALTH SYSTEM, OF THE PLANNING COMMISSION DECISION TO APPROVE A CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT (CUP 04-14) THAT ESTABLISHES A MASTER SIGN PROGRAM FOR THE JOHN MUIR/MT. DIABLO HEALTH SYSTEM CAMPUS, LOCATED AT THE SOUTHWEST CORNER OF BALFOUR ROAD AND CONCORD AVENUE.

WHEREAS, on October 19, 2004, the Planning Commission conducted a public hearing and approved via Resolution No. 04-67 a Conditional Use Permit that establishes a master sign program for the John Muir/Mt. Diablo Health System campus, located at the southwest corner of Balfour Road and Concord Avenue; and

WHEREAS, on October 29, 2004, GNU Group, as preparer of said master sign program, filed an appeal on behalf of John Muir/Mt. Diablo Health System of the Planning Commission decision to approve Conditional Use Permit No. 04-14, as conditioned; and

WHEREAS, a Notice of Exemption under Section 15311 of the CEQA Guidelines was prepared and adopted for this request; therefore, no additional environmental review documentation is necessary; and

WHEREAS, a Notice of Public Hearing was distributed to all property owners of record within 300 feet of the project site and published in the Brentwood Press on October 8, 2004, and again on December 31, 2004, in accordance with City policies and Government Code Section 65090; and

WHEREAS, the City Council has held a noticed public hearing and considered GNU Group's appeal, and all oral and written testimony presented at the January 11, 2005, City Council meeting; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City Council of the City of Brentwood does hereby uphold the Planning Commission's approval of Conditional Use Permit No. 04-14, and denies GNU Group's appeal, by making the following findings:

1. The proposed sign program, as conditioned, is consistent with the City General Plan and City Zoning Ordinance; and

2. The master sign program, as approved by the Planning Commission, will serve to enhance the orderly, attractive, efficient, and harmonious development of the overall campus; and

3. The master sign program is of integrated and harmonious design and designed to be a part of or blend with the approved master plan for the campus; and

4. The master sign program has been prepared and endorsed by a licensed sign designer; and

5. The total sign area proposed for the site does not exceed the total aggregate sign area for each of its occupants; and
6. The maximum height of 8 feet for all monument signs throughout the campus is necessary in order to maintain consistency with previously approved monument signs throughout the City as well as in the vicinity of the project site; and

7. The 8-foot height of the two proposed Campus Identification Monument Signs, as approved by the Planning Commission, is adequate to easily and properly identify the campus; and

8. The total number of freestanding signs is necessary to properly identify the site as well as to enhance vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian circulation through the site.

PASSED by the City Council of the City of Brentwood at its regular meting on the 11th day of January, 2005, by the following vote:
 

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